The British Are Here

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In the postwar years, Duncan Phillips earnestly sought out examples of contemporary British art for his museum, assembling a diverse group of neo-romantic artists who were committed to exploring the tension between abstract and objective imagery in a variety of manners and styles. Phillips began the tradition of an “English Room” at the museum after organizing an exhibition of the collection’s British paintings in 1960. In that spirit, the Phillips has put on view in the Main Gallery these past few months masterworks from its collection by the renowned British artists Francis Bacon, Anthony Caro, Henry Moore, Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, Graham Sutherland, Keith Vaughan, and Christopher Wood. In addition we have included one of Mondrian’s major canvases painted while the artist was living in London (1938-40), a time when the artist worked in the neighborhood of Hampstead and was especially close to Nicholson, who so admired his work.

These works will be on display in the museum’s Main Gallery through July 28.

Sue Frank, Associate Curator for Research

Experiments in Installation: Part V

(Left) Red Chimneys, 1918, by Charles Demuth alongside photographs by Alfred Stieglitz. (Right) Albert Pinkham Ryder’s Macbeth and the Witches, mid- 1890′s. Photos: Joshua Navarro

Edited to add: This is the fifth in a series of posts from University of Virginia graduate student Tom Winters on his class’s experience installing works from our permanent collection in the Main Gallery. See parts one, two, three, and four.

After several weeks deliberating over wall texts and agonizing over potential substitutions that we might effect within our ensemble of works, this week finally sees some action. You will notice fresh changes in our gallery space. Our wall texts continue to accrete, each one composed with the aim of establishing links between artist, work, and aspects of modernism. More exciting, however, are the two new artworks that have joined the exhibition. As their addition is necessarily accompanied by the removal of other works, the process has been slightly bittersweet. But only slightly. The team feels satisfied that, in the final balance, our gallery certainly has changed for the better.

First, we’ve added Albert Pinkham Ryder’s Macbeth and the Witches (mid-1890s or later). It is the opening work in our narrative, our research having repeatedly proven Ryder to be a key progenitor of American modernism. To make room for the Ryder, we removed two works by Stuart Davis, an artist whose work was hard to give up but lost out in the final reckoning. Ultimately our group did not find that the works by Davis available to us best represent his quality. Sorry Mr. Davis, we still think you’re great.

Charles Demuth,  Red Chimneys, 1918

Charles Demuth, Red Chimneys, 1918, Watercolor and graphite pencil on medium-weight, medium-textured, off-white, …; 10 1/8 x 14 in.; 25.7175 x 35.56 cm. (sight). Acquired 1925.

Our second addition is Charles Demuth’s Red Chimneys (1918). Demuth’s association with Alfred Stieglitz, one of our seminar’s protagonists, led us to feel that he should be included in our narrative. His work replaces Henri Rousseau’s The Pink Candle (1908). Though Rousseau undoubtedly had some measure of influence on the development of modernism in America, our group decided that his small still life was not contributing much to the theme of our exhibition, pleasing as the piece may be.

Now we’re working on assembling a case of books, catalogues, and Duncan Phillips’s letters. More to come on that in the upcoming weeks.

Tom Winters, UVa graduate student, Department of Art History

Experiments in Installation: Part IV

Hornet's Nest with Georgia O'Keeffe's Red Hills, Lake George (1927) in the Main Gallery. Photo: Joshua Navarro

Hornet’s Nest with Georgia O’Keeffe’s Red Hills, Lake George (1927) in the Main Gallery. Photo: Joshua Navarro

This is the fourth in a series of posts from University of Virginia graduate student Tom Winters on his class’s experience installing works from our permanent collection in the Main Gallery. See parts one, two, and three.

Exciting new developments have taken place in our installation of the Main Gallery. Our hornet’s nest has now been suitably be-pedestaled and installed in one of the corners of our space, following deliberation over possible locations with Professor Turner last week. Now appropriately objectified and labeled, the hornet’s nest will henceforth be referred to as Hornet’s Nest. We are also delighted that Georgia O’Keeffe’s Red Hills, Lake George (1927) has joined our display. It replaces a Stuart Davis painting, though he is still represented with two other works in the gallery. O’Keeffe’s (artistic) relationship with Alfred Stieglitz–one of our main protagonists–makes her work an obvious inclusion in our ensemble; its quality makes it near essential.

Tom Winters, UVa graduate student, Department of Art History

Arthur Dove's Rain or Snow (1943) with Hornet's Nest in the Main Gallery. Photo: Joshua Navarro

Arthur Dove’s Rain or Snow (1943) with Hornet’s Nest in the Main Gallery. Photo: Joshua Navarro

Hornet's Nest, up close. Photo: Joshua Navarro

Hornet’s Nest, up close. Photo: Joshua Navarro